Sources: Avery Guerra / Twitchfilm
Released in 1976, the original Robot Taekwon V (known as Voltar the Invincible in the U.S.) was the first Korean animated feature film. In 2005, it also became the first Korean film to undergo full digital restoration – a process that took three years to complete. The newly restored film premiered at the 10th Pusan International Film Festival, and enjoyed a successful theatrical release on 170 screens in 2007.
Now, this iconic, taekwondo-kicking robot is set for the live action/CGI update. Planned to be released in 2009 (and to go head-to-head with The Transformers 2 in the Korean market), Robot Taekwon V (2009) is directed by WON Shin-yeon of Seven Days and A Bloody Aria fame. Production is handled by Shin Cine (My Sassy Girl), and the budget is estimated at 20 billion Korean Won (over 20 million USD). CGI and visual effects are done by a consortium of Korean VFX companies, including Macrograph , Mofac, Insight Visual, DTI (Digital Tetra Inc.) , and EON Digital Films.
The Japanese giant-robot anime Mazinger Z (1972) was popular in South Korea at the time of Robot Taekwon V's creation, and Kim Cheong-gi freely discusses the influence of Mazinger Z on his cartoon, saying he wanted to create a Korean hero for Korean children. In order to emphasize the Korean ties of the film, he had leading characters perform the traditional martial art, taekwondo, and gave the robot the ability to do taekwondo kicks.[ While Korea has become the global hive for animation outsourcing (Korean studios now work on most Japanese anime feature films) 1970's Korea had a very different vibe to modern day South Korea. Bitter memories of the brutal occupation of Korea by Japan were still fresh in the minds of many. Chongi Kim's Taekwon V proudly bares the helmet the legendary Korean Admiral Yi Sunsin wore in his quests to fend off Japanese annexation. In a very real sense Taekwon V is a national hero representing the fight for freedom from Japan and independence
The sequel, "Super Taekwon V", had taken designs from "Gundam" and "Xabungle".
In the original film Dr. Kaff (or Dr. Cops in Korean), an evil scientist bent on world domination, creates an army of giant robots to kidnap world-class athletes and conquer the world. To fight off this attack, Dr. Kim creates Robot Taekwon V. Kim Hoon, the taekwon-do champion eldest son of Dr Kim, pilots Robot Taekwon V either mechanically or through his physical power by merging his taekwon-do movements with the robot. Comic relief is provided by Kim Hoon's younger brother, elementary school student Kim Cheol. He has fashioned himself as "Tin-Can Robot Cheol" by cutting eyeholes in a tea kettle and wearing it on his head. Kim Hoon's girlfriend, Yoon Yeong-hee, is a pilot and taekwon-do practitioner. She can also operate Robot Taekwon V with buttons and levers, and pilots Kim Hoon in and out of the robot.